Indigenous mental health given boost
There will soon be a rise in Aboriginal mental health workers after Curtin University introduced an Indigenous Clinical Mental Health Practitioner degree this year.
The course is open to Aboriginal students to educate and support them in becoming registered mental health practitioners specialising in indigenous clinical mental health. Rural Health West general manager for workforce Kelli Porter said an increase in indigenous health workers would be valuable in regional areas.
“The Aboriginal health worker is a highly valued member of the Aboriginal Medical Service team and this new degree will ensure students have the skills and knowledge to treat indigenous populations living in remote Western Australia,” she said.
“Having local access to culturally appropriate mental health services is beneficial for rural patients as it prevents them from having to travel long distances to attend appointments.” The course aims to prepare students to treat and care for indigenous people with mental illnesses through assessments and practical placements.
Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies Associate Lecturer Trish Hill-Wall said the course may be the first of its kind in the country and is an “empowering opportunity” for Aboriginal students.
“They have the opportunity to learn about the behavioural science of the disorder, treatment and the recovery process of patients with mental illnesses,” she said.
“It is important for the Indigenous Clinical Mental Health Practitioner students to support indigenous people in a proactive manner and the course offers practical solutions in line with the best care and treatment practices under the Mental Health Act 2014.”
The course is available to people of indigenous or Torres Strait Islander descent and will be open to 10 non-indigenous students a year.